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Naa Kahida Theater Photograph Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description


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Naa Kahida Theater Photograph Collection, 1989-1994 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Naa Kahida Theater Photograph Collection, 1989-1994Add to your cart.

ID: PO/001

Primary Creator: Sealaska Heritage Institute

Other Creators: Hood, Robin, Kelley, Mark, Sohl, Marty

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 00/00/1992

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of approximately 200 negative slides, roughly 200 photographs, and numerous negatives documenting the Naa Kahida Theater productions in 1992 and 1994. The bulk of the images in this collection were taken by professional photographer Marty Sohl in 1994, which includes slides showing the Naa Kahida Theater performance “Fires on the Water”. A small batch of slides in this collection were taken by professional photographers Mark Kelley and Robin Hood for use as cover images of published programs and show outdoor scenes of Naa Kahida Theater actors in costume. The remaining slides, photos, and negatives appear to be taken by SHI staff, local amateur photographers, and otherwise unidentified photographers. The photographs have been arranged by photographer.

Note: Photographs in this collection taken by professional photographers may be subject to copyright, and in some cases SHI cannot reproduce these photos without the permission of the photographer. Please consult the archivist for further details.

Collection Historical Note

The Naa Kahida Theater was established in 1986 by the Sealaska Heritage Institute with support from the Sealaska Corporation. With primarily Tlingit and Haida performers, the theater produced dramatic presentations of traditional Southeast Alaska Native legends. The Naa Kahida Theater traveled throughout Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and internationally. One of the main performances of the Theater included “Fires on the Water; a Dramatic Anthology of Tlingit Legend”. In the mid-1990s, due to funding difficulties, the Naa Kahida Theater productions were stopped.

Biographical Note

The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is a regional Native non-profit organization founded for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. SHI was established in 1981 by Sealaska Corp., a for-profit company formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). SHI, formerly Sealaska Heritage Foundation, administers Sealaska Corp.'s cultural and educational programs.

SHI was conceived by Clan Leaders, Traditional Scholars and Elders at the first Sealaska Elders Conference in 1980. During that meeting, the Elders likened Native culture to a blanket. The late George Davis (Kichnáalx—Lk’aanaaw) of Angoon, spoke these memorable words: “We don’t want what you did here to only echo in the air, how our grandfathers used to do things…  Yes. You have unwrapped it for us.  That is why we will open again this container of wisdom left in our care.” These wise traditional leaders told the new leaders that their hands were growing weary of holding onto the metaphorical blanket, this "container of wisdom." They said they were transferring this responsibility to the Corporation. In response to this directive, Sealaska Corporation created its non-profit arm, Sealaska Heritage Institute, to administer cultural and educational programs for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

During its first decade of operation, under the leadership of David Katzeek, SHI began to administer its Scholarship Program from funds set aside by Sealaska Corporation for this purpose. The second major focus at that time was the documentation of oral traditions, a project led by Tlingit scholar Dr. Nora Marks Dauenhauer and her husband, Dr. Richard Dauenhauer. Over nearly a 20-year period, these efforts led to several major publications by the Institute of the Dauenhauer’s work, including:  “Because We Cherish You…” Sealaska Elders Speak to the Future, in 1981; Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors, Volume I of our Tlingit Oral Narratives (1987); Haa Tuwunáagu Yís: for Healing our Spirit. Vol. 2, Tlingit Oral Narratives. (1990); the Third Edition of Beginning Tlingit in 1991; Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories (1994); and Aan Aduspelled X’úx’, Tlingit Spelling Book in 1999. A number of these publications were co-published by the Institute and University of Washington Press. During this period, the Institute also created Naa Kahídi Theater, which won national acclaim for its dramatic presentation of Native legends.

One year after SHI was founded the Institute sponsored the first United Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Traditional Celebration, held in Juneau. Celebration '82 was so popular that our Board of Trustees decided the festival should become a biennial event. New dance groups began to form in response to Celebration, and every other year, the festival grew. Today, nearly every community in Southeast as well as Anchorage, the Seattle area, Hawaii and Canada, are represented by roughly two-thousand dancers in nearly fifty dance groups. During Celebration, workshops on various aspects of traditional culture and history also occur. Because SHI is the only major region-wide organization dedicated to cultural preservation, its Board of Trustees has mandated that Celebration be dedicated solely to honoring our traditional culture.

More recently, while continuing to honor the Institute's mission statement, “To perpetuate the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures,” the Trustees in 1997 adopted language restoration as the foremost priority of the Institute. Few funds were available initially for this objective, but the Institute launched an aggressive fund-raising campaign, and today, SHI sponsors and supports numerous language and culture programs across Southeast Alaska. The Institute also sponsors archival projects, historical research, and new publications. Since SHI’s founding, it has had four presidents; David Katzeek (1980-1991), Dennis Demmert (1992-1996), Ted Wright (1996-1998), and Rosita Worl (1998-present).

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Use Restrictions: Note: Photographs in this collection taken by professional photographers may be subject to copyright, and in some cases SHI cannot reproduce these photos without the permission of the photographer. Please consult the archivist for further details.

Acquisition Method: The materials in the collection were obtained by SHI between 1992 and 1994. Some photographs were taken by professional photographers Mark Kelley and Marty Sohl, who were hired by SHI, and their photographs were subsequently deposited with SHI. The collection also contains a small batch of pictures taken by professional photographer Robin Hood who worked on an assignment with the Alaska Tourist Marketing Council. Additional photographs were taken by SHI staff members and patrons of the theater, which were donated to SHI.

Box and Folder Listing

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